A Pineapple Wine Recipe You Should Try Out
Section 1: Introduction
If you’ve never heard of pineapple wine before you clicked on this article – you need a holiday!
This exotic, fragrant wine is incredibly popular in Mexico, Hawaii, the Caribbean, Thailand and Japan.
Here these pineapple wine recipes and techniques are passed down from generation to generation, and shared only with close family and friends (also, if you're interested in trying some other homemade wine recipes, make sure you check out our list of 17 step-by-step recipes).
There are a couple of commercial pineapple wineries in Hawaii, Thailand and Nigeria, but if you want that authentic ‘pineapple wine’ experience, you really need to make it yourself.
But it’s well worth the effort. Pineapples produce a beautifully scented, slightly dry white wine which is a cross between a South American sauvignon blanc and an Italian pinot grigio.
The natural sourness of the pineapple stops the wine from becoming cloyingly sweet, but the unusually high sugar content of the fruit means that it is perfectly suited for fermentation, and will hold its natural flavors even after six months of preparation.
You don’t need to own your own pineapple plantation to produce an excellent wine – tinned pineapples will do the job just as well. This makes pineapple wine one of the most accessible fruit wines for the home wine maker, so you there’s no excuse to pass up on this amazing wine.
So gather up the finest pineapples (or pineapple slices) in your neighborhood, sterilize your wine-making equipment, and read on for the only pineapple wine recipe you will need this side of the equator.
Section 2: The equipment you need to make pineapple wine
Rhubarb wine is a great introduction to the world of homemade wines, so if you’re buying this equipment for the first time, we’ve added in a handy link so you can see what it’s supposed to look like and how much it should cost.
By investing in proper equipment, you will be able to use it again and again as you start experimenting with different types of wine.
So go for quality where possible, and always, always make sure you sterilize EVERYTHING before using it.
- A sterilized fermentation bin (sometimes called a brew bin), or a food grade basin with a capacity of at least one gallon.
- 2 glass or plastic demijohns (at least one gallon in size), plus a fitted airlock and bung. While glass demijohns are preferable due to their durability and stability, you can get away with using a cheaper plastic alternative for this wine. In fact, you could even reuse one-gallon milk cartons, as long as you take the time to sterilize them properly, and measure the rim so that you can find a bung and airlock to fit.
- A large straining bag or muslin cloth
- Vinyl tubing (at least 3ft in length)
- 6 glass wine bottles, plus fitted corks and a corker. I am a big fan of corkers, as they make the bottling-up process so much easier, and they can be used again and again to reseal half-drunk bottles of wine.
- A large funnel
Quick Tip: If you're new to making wine at home, and don't want to purchase all of the equipment separately, make sure you check out our Homemade Wine Starter kit. This contains all the equipment needed to get started right away!
- Hydrometer - Professional wine makers will be appalled that I am placing the hydrometer in the ‘optional extras’ column, but in my experience you can make a perfectly good home-made wine without them. In some cases they can even add unnecessary confusion and cause you to dither over the primary fermentation process, which can have an impact on the wine’s final taste. A hydrometer is used to gauge the ‘gravity reading’ of your wine, which tells you what the final alcohol content will be. In some very sugary wines (for instance, watermelon wine), it is important to get this exactly right throughout the process. But with pineapple wine you should be able to work it out yourself based on the timings and appearance of the wine. By all means invest in a hydrometer right from the start, but don’t stress out if you can’t get hold of one.
- Pineapple corer - If you eat a lot of fresh pineapples or make a lot of pineapple wine, this clever little gadget will change your life. You will get perfectly sliced, freshly de-cored pineapple every time and in mere seconds. They aren’t necessary for the pineapple wine-making process, but they are super-handy.
- Acid testing kit - Pineapple is one of the more acidic fruits you can work with, so some dedicated winemakers like to invest in an acid testing kit to keep track of the acidity levels and sugar content. You can get these kits from most wine-making and home brewing companies, but for a first-time winemaker they aren’t exactly a must-have. If you have a background in chemistry or are prepared to do a little background work, you can pick up a pH testing kit for a fraction of the price but again, this is not a priority for the novice winemaker.
Section 3: The ingredients you need to make pineapple wine
- 3lbs (1.3kg) fresh pineapple or tinned pineapple. This is the weight of the flesh only, not the stalk, core, skin or leaves, so if you are buying your pineapples whole, buy 6-7lbs (2-3 pineapples). If you are using tinned pineapples, choose pineapple rings rather than crushed or cubed pineapple, and make sure they have been stored in their own juices – NOT syrup.
- 2lbs (900g) granulated sugar
- 1lb (450g) golden raisins . Sultanas or currants will also do just fine.
- Juice of one lemon, or 0.5oz (15g) citric acid
- White wine yeast or champagne yeast. Each brand differs slightly, so check the packaging to find out how much you should use and how you should add it. Some brands suggest that you simply sprinkle it over the top of your wine, and others insist that you mix it with water before pouring it in.
- Yeast nutrient . As with the wine yeast, follow the instructions on the packet to find out how much of this you need to use.
- Campden tablets
Get Your Ingredients Below
White Wine Yeast
- Wine stopper/stabilizer such as potassium sorbate . If you are using a hydrometer and you know exactly what ABV (Alcohol by Volume) you wish to end up with, a teaspoon of potassium sorbate will ensure that the fermentation process stops immediately and your gravity reading will remain unchanged.
- Pectic enzyme . A small amount of this can be used to help clear your wine during the racking process. Pineapple wine can be a little cloudier than other fruit wines, so a pinch of pectic enzyme could make the difference between a ‘homemade’-looking wine and a professional-looking wine.
Section 4: Quick step by step instructions to make pineapple wine
STEP ONE – Sourcing your pineapples
Unless you live in the tropics, the chances are you won’t have access to a local supply of fresh pineapples growing straight from the trees – there’s a reason why the world’s only pineapple wineries are in Nigeria, Japan, and Hawaii.
However, thanks to their thick rind and nutritious core, pineapples are pretty good at keeping themselves fresh, even when they have to travel hundreds of miles and several weeks to make their way to your local market.
If you are using fresh pineapples for this wine (and let’s face it, fresh is always best), make sure you choose ripe, organic pineapples which are sold whole. Pineapples can be grown all year round, but April-June is peak season for sweet Hawaiian varieties, and Caribbean pineapples are best bought between August and September or December and February.
You can tell whether or not a pineapple is ripe by turning it upside down and sniffing the bottom – you should find a sweet, pineappley fragrance that almost transports you away to a tropical beach.
Ripe pineapples will also be slightly golden towards the bottom, but still firm to the touch. If you press your finger in to the base, it should be met with resistance – if your finger leaves an impression in the peel, the fruit may be on the verge of being over-ripe.
Avoid any pineapples which have brown, withered leaves at the top, or brown patches across the skin – the likelihood is that they have already started to go off, and will not be suitable for wine-making.
Finally, when choosing fresh pineapples, go by weight not by size. The heavier the pineapple, the more juice is living inside.
If you are using tinned pineapples, the only rule to bear in mind is that they should be stored in their own juices and not with any added sugar, fruit juices or syrup.
STEP TWO – Preparing your pineapple
Pineapples are notoriously difficult to prepare, which is why I have included a pineapple corer in the equipment list above – I have had too many cut fingers, bruised toes (from falling pineapples) and near blindings (by pineapple juice) to risk cutting any more pineapples with a paring knife. It's corers all the way for me!
Regardless of how you are cutting your pineapple, before the fruit is ready for wine-making, it needs to be:
• Peeled (don’t worry about the little puck-marks that are left over once the rind is removed – its more hassle than it’s worth and they really don’t alter the flavor that much);
• Cored (it’s not the end of the world if you leave the core in – it just won’t ferment at the same speed as the pineapple flesh and it doesn’t add anything to the flavor or body of the wine, so you may as well leave it out; and
• Chopped up (make sure you don’t lose any of the precious pineapple juice while you’re cutting up the flesh. I like to use a ridged chopping board so that the juice collects while I work).
Weigh out 3lbs (give or take a few ounces) of pineapple flesh and juice, then move on to step three.
FOODIE TIP: Don’t throw away the core of your pineapple – it may not be edible but it is still full of lots of delicious, sweet pineapple juice. I like to chop it up into squares and keep them in the freezer then use them as ice cubes when your wine is ready.
STEP THREE – Beginning the fermentation
Put your pineapple pieces (and juice!) into your fermentation bucket, then roughly chop up your raisins and throw them in there as well.
Boil up around a gallon of water in a large pot. Bring it to a simmer, then add the sugar and stir until it has completely dissolved.
Leave the sugar mix to cool for ten minutes or so then pour it over the chopped pineapple and stir it all together. Leave it alone for 12 hours so that the pineapple goes nice and mushy, and the natural fruit sugars are released into the mix.
Then give it another stir and add the citric acid, yeast and yeast nutrient, cover the fermentation bin and leave it for another 24 hours.
During this time, the yeast should start to react with the sugars to create a frothing, bubbling effect on the surface of the wine. If this process hasn’t begun within 48 hours, it may be down to ‘bad’ yeast, or your wine may have been exposed to some other microbes which are killing off the yeast before it can do its job.
You can fix this problem by crumbling up one or two campden tablets in the mix (they aren’t just useful for sterilizing!), then leaving your wine for another 24 hours. After that, add the yeast again and take it from there.
This is called the ‘primary fermentation’ and it is one of the craziest parts of the wine making process. You never know from day to day (and hour to hour) what your wine is going to look like – one morning it might be foaming; the next it could be swirling. Plus, let’s think about the science of what is actually happening inside your fermentation bin – you are literally converting sugar into alcohol!
Keep an eye on your wine while it ferments and stir it twice a day. After a week or so, the bubbling should have stopped, and that’s when you know that this stage is nearly over. Give it another 24 hours, then skim off any froth that is still sitting on the top of the wine, and start sterilizing your demijohns ahead of step four!
PRO TIP: If you are using your hydrometer, you are looking for a gravity reading of 1.040 at this point. If your gravity reading is lower than this, or your acid reading is too high for your liking, just keep adding sugar until you get the levels that you want. If your wine is too sweet at this point, dilute it with filtered or bottled water.
STEP FOUR – Straining and draining
Now that the fermentation stage has come to an end, you need to strain out all that pineapple and raisin gunk that’s been collecting at the bottom of your fermentation bin.
Take your straining bag and position it above a sterilized bowl or pot, then carefully tip the pineapple liquid in. Wring out the bag a little so that you get every last drop of wine, then discard.
Position the funnel along the mouth of your (freshly sterilized) demijohn, and gently start to pour the pineapple liquid into the bottle. If it doesn’t fill all the way up to the top, just add a little filtered or bottled water to make up the difference.
Attach the bung and airlock, and then leave your demijohn in a cool, dark place where you can watch its progress on a week-to-week basis.
This stage of the winemaking process can take anything from three weeks to two months, depending on the sugar content of the wine.
At first, you will notice a rush of bubbles through the demijohn and up into the airlock – it may even make a slightly crude gurgling noise. This is called the ‘secondary fermentation’.
After a few weeks, the bubbling will start to slow down, and eventually it will stop altogether. Keep watching the demijohn and when you can count at least a minute between bubbles, your fermentation is complete and you can start thinking about clearing the wine.
STEP FIVE – How to clear your wine
Pineapple wine is cloudy by nature, but you can still clear it pretty effectively if you rack it properly two or three times.
Racking is the act of moving wine from one demijohn to another via a piece of tubing, and the idea is to siphon off the ‘good’ wine at the top and leave behind the sediment at the bottom. It’s this sediment that creates the cloudy effect, although it is otherwise absolutely harmless.
To rack your wine you will need the following pieces of equipment:
• Your wine-filled demijohn
• Your second (freshly sterilized) demijohn
• A towel or five (because pineapple wine spillages are STICKY!)
First move your wine-filled demijohn very carefully to a flat counter top or table. Make sure you don’t disturb any of the sediment along the bottom – if you notice it starting to rise up, just leave the demijohn on your counter top for a couple of hours before proceeding.
Position the second demijohn so that it is standing flat on the ground below. Then remove the airlock and bung, and pop your siphon tube into the wine, around three quarters of the way down the bottle.
Take a deep breath, put the other end of the siphon tube in your mouth and suck it like you are trying to hoover up the last morsels of milkshake through a straw. When you taste wine, put your thumb over the end of the tube to stop it from spilling everywhere, then as quickly as possible, start filling up the demijohn on the floor.
As the second demijohn fills up, you can push the vinyl tubing further and further towards the bottom of the original container, until it is hovering just above the sediment layer at the bottom. It is vital that you don’t allow any of this sediment to transfer over during the racking process, but likewise, you don’t want to waste any perfectly good wine! Use your discretion, and if you feel that you have been shortchanged when you see the amount of wine in your second demijohn, just top it up with some fresh pineapple juice.
Once you have finished racking, put the bung and airlock onto the new demijohn full of wine, and leave it in storage away from direct sunlight.
After two months, repeat the racking process.
Two months later, if your wine is still looking a little too cloudy, rack it again.
STEP SIX – The waiting game…
The time between the first rack and the bottling of your wine will absolutely drag. There is very little you can do except watch your demijohn as it just…sits there. But the important thing is that you don’t rush this part – the wine needs a chance to clear and to mature, and the longer you wait the better it will be.
When you are finally happy with the color and clarity of your wine, you can finally start planning to bottle it up!
Bottling is more or less the same as racking, in that you use your siphon tube to move the wine from one vessel (your demijohn) to another (or six others).
Just line up your bottles on the floor, and position the demijohn on a table above. Work quickly to fill up each bottle, and put a towel down to catch the inevitable spillages!
Then all you have to do is cork and seal your bottles, and stick on a label with the vintage (today’s date) and any other details on your home vineyard. And that’s it!
Well, except for a little bit more waiting…
You can drink pineapple wine immediately, but I find that it really benefits from a few months of maturation once it’s in the bottle. It’s entirely up to you, but I personally prefer the tanginess and slight dryness of an older pineapple wine. Having said that, you wouldn’t want it to be too dry, as part of the joy of the pineapple is that luscious sweetness that really comes across in the wine’s bouquet. Drink it within a year (which won’t be hard), and enjoy it chilled, just as you would drink any sophisticated white wine.
In Mexico, fresh pineapples are fermented for a week and then served with brown sugar, cinnamon and ice. The drink – locally known as ‘tepache’ is sometimes mixed with beer or tequila to increase its potency and give it a little kick.
Your pineapple wine will be lighter, drier and more alcoholic than tepache, but you can still take inspiration from this refreshing beverage and serve your pineapple wine chilled, with a little cinnamon and brown sugar sprinkled over the top.
Pineapple wine pairs beautifully with fish and most south east Asian dishes (I love it with Thai green curry), and in fact it is one of the few wines which can stand alone against spicy, flavorsome food.
Grill up a great piece of fresh fish with coriander, lemongrass and chili, and savor every morsel with a sip of this wine and you will gain a whole new appreciation for the humble fish and these exotic flavors.
Get in touch and tell us how you will be drinking your pineapple wine, and share your adventures in winemaking in the comments box below.
Section 5: Conclusion
It’s a shame that pineapple wine isn’t more popular, as these fruity, tropical flavors really can’t be matched by any other commercially-produced wine currently on the market.
But in a way, it’s a good thing that this wine is still under the radar – once you’ve made your first batch, you will feel as though you’re in on a great little secret and you will want to keep making it again and again, channeling your dream holiday destinations in the comfort of your own kitchen.
Please get in touch and tell us how you got on with this pineapple wine recipe, and how your first batch of pineapple wine turned out. If you’re a fruit wine veteran, feel free to share your tips and advice in the comments box below.
Also, don't forget to check out our list of 17 other step-by-step winemaking recipes.
And finally, if you enjoyed reading this article, share it with your family and friends so that we can kick start the pineapple wine revolution and ensure that you always have a fresh supply nearby!